The Government has responded to the responses received to its request for views on its proposed action plan to combat money laundering and terrorist finance. Respondents had agreed the SARS regime needed reform, but had not agreed on the form the changed regime should take. The Government is introducing the Criminal Finances Bill which will, among other things, extend the period law enforcement has to make a decision on a SAR, and give the UK FIU powers to get information from SAR reporters. For the moment, it will not make any further changes to the consent regime, but will work with the financial sector to identify changes to guidance to help focus the regime on the highest risk areas. The Bill will also create “Unexplained Wealth Orders”, which a court would make and which would require a respondent to explain the origin of certain property which appeared to be beyond their means. Unless the respondent has a good explanation, there will be a rebuttable presumption the property is recoverable for civil recovery purposes. Apart from addressing these SAR related issues, the Bill also introduces criminal offences for those who fail to prevent facilitation of tax evasion.
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